USDA funds fourth year of water quality easements in the Northern Everglades Watershed

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

KISSIMMEE, Flor., July 13, 2012 -The Obama Administration today released a report outlining federal investments in Everglades restoration and announced $80 million in additional funding to support farmers and ranchers who voluntarily conserve wetlands on agricultural land in the Northern Everglades Watershed. As part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), the investment is intended to restore an additional 23,000 acres of wetlands.

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Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, Department of Interior Assistant Secretary Rachel Jacobson and Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy released the report and made the funding announcement today in Kissimmee, FL.

"President Obama has made restoring the iconic Everglades a national priority," Vilsack said. "Restoring these wetlands demonstrates a strong commitment to partnerships with ranchers and farmers to improve water quality and habitat protection while supporting Florida's strong agricultural economy and ranching heritage. These investments are paying off, creating nearly 7,000 jobs in Florida's economy and preserving thousands of acres of precious wetlands for future generations to enjoy."

Since 2009, the Administration has invested $1.5 billion in Everglades projects through President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative. 

"The Everglades are essential to the environmental and economic strength of so many Florida communities. The health of this ecosystem affects everything from water quality and biodiversity to tourism, an industry that supports thousands of jobs across the state," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

According to the Administration, since 2009, water quality projects in Florida have restored more than 3,000 acres of the floodplains along the Kissimmee River and improved habitat and water quality on more than 400,000 agricultural acres. 


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